Native grasses and forbs are an important component of the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) ecosystem; however, information about re-establishment of these species in a restoration context has become available only recently. Understanding the effects of herbicides on non-target native plants can advance the use of herbicides as an effective restoration tool in the control of competing vegetation and in maintenance of seed production fields. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of several commonly used herbicides on non-target species of grasses, legumes, and composites native to the longleaf pine ecosystem of southwestern Georgia. We assessed the pre- and post-emergent properties of nine herbicides on ten species of grasses, legumes, and composites. For each species, we examined phytotoxic responses to two rates (low rate and high rate) of herbicide at three stages of plant growth: 0 (pre-emergent), 30, and 60 d post-emergent. Plants were visually rated for leaf damage 30 d after herbicide application to assess the phytotoxic effects of the herbicides. Plants were then harvested, dried, and weighed. Regardless of herbicide application rate or age of plant, legumes were extremely vulnerable to applications of aminopyralid, triclopyr, and hexazinone. Most pre-emergent grasses were vulnerable to triclopyr when applied at the high rate. Most 30-day-old grasses were killed when treated with the high rate of hexazinone. Our results indicate that several native species are more sensitive to herbicide application than expected based on the below maximum label rates used and the specificity implied on the herbicide labeling.
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